Geneva Summit (1985)

The Geneva Summit of 1985 was a Cold War-era meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. It was held on November 19 and 20, 1985, between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. The two leaders met for the first time to hold talks on international diplomatic relations and the arms race.

Geneva Summit
Reagan and Gorbachev hold discussions
Reagan and Gorbachev at the Geneva Summit
Host country  Switzerland
DateNovember 19–20, 1985
ParticipantsSoviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev
United States Ronald Reagan
PrecedesReykjavík Summit
Gorbachev and Reagan 1985-10
The closing joint-press conference of the Geneva Summit on November 21, 1985
Gorbachev and Reagan 1985-8
The United States Strategic Defense Initiative was high on Gorbachev's agenda at the Geneva Summit

Run-up to the summit

Both the Soviet Union and the United States were seeking to cut the number of nuclear weapons, with the Soviets seeking to halve the number of nuclear-equipped bombers and missiles, and the U.S. desiring to ensure that neither side gained a first-strike advantage, and to protect rights to have defensive systems.[1] Diplomats struggled to come up with planned results in advance, with Soviets rejecting the vast majority of the items that U.S. negotiators proposed.[2] With the meeting planned months in advance, the two superpowers used the opportunity to posture and to stake their positions in the court of public opinion. Reagan's security advisor Robert McFarlane announced that they were having "real trouble establishing a dialogue" with the Soviets, and announced a first test for the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense. The Soviets announced a unilateral moratorium on underground nuclear tests and invited the Americans to join them, a request that was rebuffed.[3]


On November 19, 1985, U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev met for the first time, in Geneva, to hold talks on international diplomatic relations and the arms race. The meeting was held at Maison de Saussure, a chateau rented by His Highness the Aga Khan.[4] Gorbachev later said: "We viewed the Geneva meeting realistically, without grand expectations, yet we hoped to lay the foundations for a serious dialogue in the future."[5] Similar to former president Eisenhower in 1955, Reagan believed that a personal relationship among leaders was the necessary first step to breaking down the barriers of tension that existed between the two countries. Reagan's goal was to convince Gorbachev that America desired peace above all else.[6] Reagan described his hopes for the summit as a "mission for peace". The first thing Reagan said to Gorbachev was "The United States and the Soviet Union are the two greatest countries on Earth, the superpowers. They are the only ones who can start World War 3, but also the only two countries that could bring peace to the world". He then emphasized the personal similarities between the two leaders, with both being born in similar "rural hamlets in the middle of their respective countries" and the great responsibilities they held.[7]

Their first meeting exceeded their time limit by over a half an hour. A Reagan assistant asked Secretary of State George Shultz whether he should interrupt the meeting to keep things punctual. Shultz responded, "If you think so, then you shouldn't have this job." [8] The first day, Mikhail Gorbachev argued that the United States did not trust them and that its ruling class was trying to keep the people uneasy. Ronald Reagan countered that the Soviets had been acting aggressively and suggested the Soviets were overly paranoid about the United States (The Soviets had refused to allow American planes use Soviet airfields in post-World War II Germany). They broke for lunch and Reagan promised Gorbachev he'd have a chance to rebut. They talked outside for about two hours on the Strategic Defense Initiative, but both stood firm. Gorbachev accepted Reagan's invitation to the United States in a year, and Reagan was invited to do the same in 1987. On the second day, Reagan went after human rights, saying that he did not want to tell Gorbachev how to run his country, but that he should ease up on emigration restrictions. Gorbachev claimed that the Soviets were comparable to the United States and quoted some feminists. The next session started with arguments about the arms race, then went into SDI. They agreed to a joint statement.[9]


The two leaders held similar meetings over the next few years to further discuss the topics. Gorbachev then held summits with George H.W. Bush after the latter became president, starting with the Malta Summit in 1989.

Key statements related to the summit

Name of the document United Nations
Documents symbol
(General Assembly)
United Nations
Documents symbol
(Security Council)
1 Interview given by the President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan, to Izvestia Newspaper, published with reductions[10] on November 4, 1985 (Moscow evening issue) and on November 5, 1985 (USSR national issue) no data no data
2 Address to the nation given by the President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan, on the upcoming Soviet-United States summit meeting in Geneva on 14 November 1985 no data no data
3 U.S.-Soviet joint statement issued in Geneva on 21 November 1985 A/40/1070
4 Press conference given by the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, in Geneva on November 21, 1985 no data no data
5 Address given by the President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan, before a joint session of the Congress following the Soviet-United States summit meeting in Geneva on 21 November 1985 no data no data
6 Radio address to the nation given by the President of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan, on the Soviet-United States summit meeting in Geneva on 23 November 1985 no data no data
7 Report given by deputy Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at the session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on November 27, 1985 A/40/987 S/17670

See also


  1. ^ "Proposals bode well for Geneva Summit". The Milwaukee Sentinel. November 2, 1985.
  2. ^ "Geneva summit could turn into bare-knuckles confrontation", Raymond Coffey, The Evening Independent, August 28, 1985
  3. ^ "The Evening Independent - Google News Archive Search".
  4. ^ PBS - The Presidents: Reagan, PBS On-line, (retrieved July 10, 2011)
  5. ^ Matlock, Reagan and Gorbachev, p.149.
  6. ^ Anderson and Anderson, Reagan: A Life in Letters, p. 288.
  7. ^ "Geneva Summit - President Reagan to Hold Pre-summit Speech", ABC News (retrieved January 24, 2007)
  8. ^ "A conversation with George Shultz". Charlie Rose. Archived from the original on November 30, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  9. ^ The Reagan Diaries, 11/19/85-11/20/85, pp. 369–371
  10. ^ William J. Eaton. "Soviets Publish Edited Interview With Reagan : Izvestia Cuts Harsher Criticism of Kremlin, Offers Point-by-Point Rebuttal of 'Distortion'"., LA Times


External links

Geneva Conference

Geneva Conference may refer to:

Geneva Naval Conference (1927), on naval arms limitation

World Economic Conference (4–23 May 1927), on international trade

World Population Conference (29 August–3 September 1927), on demography

Geneva Conference (1932), a continuation of the 1927 Naval conference

World Disarmament Conference, a.k.a. Geneva Disarmament Conference (1932–1934)

Geneva Conference (1954), on Korea and Indochina (Vietnam)

Geneva Conference (1973), on the Arab–Israeli conflict

Geneva Conference (1976), on Rhodesia

Geneva Peace Conference (1991), on Iraq and Kuwait

Agreed Framework (1994, Genova), between North Korea and the U.S.

Geneva I Conference on Syria (2012)

Geneva II Conference on Syria (2014)

Geneva peace talks on Syria (2016)

Geneva peace talks on Syria (2017)

Geneva Summit

Geneva Summit may refer to

Geneva Summit (1955), a meeting of President Dwight D. Eisenhower of the United States, Prime Minister Anthony Eden of Britain, Premier Nikolai A. Bulganin of the Soviet Union, and Prime Minister Edgar Faure of France

Geneva Summit (1985), a meeting between U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev

Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy

List of Booknotes interviews first aired in 1989

Booknotes is an American television series on the C-SPAN network hosted by Brian Lamb, which originally aired from 1989 to 2004. The format of the show is a one-hour, one-on-one interview with a non-fiction author. The series was broadcast at 8 p.m. Eastern Time each Sunday night, and was the longest-running author interview program in U.S. broadcast history.

List of chemical arms control agreements

Chemical arms control is the attempt to limit the use or possession of chemical weapons through arms control agreements. These agreements are often motivated by the common belief "that these weapons ...are abominable", and by a general agreement that chemical weapons do "not accord with the feelings and principles of civilized warfare."The first chemical arms control agreement was the Strasbourg Agreement of 1675 between France and the Holy Roman Empire. This bilateral pact prohibited the use of poisoned bullets in any war between the two states. In the several centuries after that agreement, as chemistry advanced, states developed more sophisticated chemical weapons, and the primary concern in arms control shifted from poison bullets to poison gases. Thus, in the Hague Convention of 1899, a large group of states agreed "to abstain from the use of projectiles the sole objective of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases". The 1907 Hague Convention and other early attempts at chemical arms control were also significant in restricting the use of chemical weapons in warfare.

World War I broke out in Europe less than 20 years after the signing of the Hague Conventions. During that conflict, chemical weapons were used extensively by all sides in what still remains the largest case of chemical warfare. The use of chemical weapons in warfare was a war crime as such use was in direct violation of the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases and the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare, which prohibited the use of "poison or poisoned weapons" in warfare. After World War I, arms control agreements in general, and chemical arms control agreements in particular, gained renewed support. After seeing the gas attacks of the war, the general public overwhelmingly supported provisions that strongly regulated chemical weapons. In one survey of Americans, 367,000 favored banning chemical warfare while 19 supported its continuation in the future. This public opinion stimulated increased efforts for a ban on chemical weapons. These efforts led to several agreements in the years before World War II, including the Geneva Protocol.World War II was seen as a significant success for chemical arms control as none of the belligerents made significant use of chemical weapons. In the immediate aftermath of the war, arms control efforts focused primarily on nuclear weapons given their immense destructive power, and chemical disarmament was not a priority. Nonetheless, chemical warfare began to expand again with gas attacks during the Yemeni Civil War, and allegations of use during the Korean War. Along with the substantial use of chemical weapons in the Iran–Iraq War, these incidents led to a renewed interest in chemical disarmament and increased the push towards disarmament, finally culminating in the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, a full-scale ban on the use, production and stockpiling of weapons, which took force in 1997.

The Ribbon International

The Ribbon International is a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization that created a large decorated cloth promoting nuclear disarmament and care and protection of the earth. In an event held on August 4, 1985, panels were connected in an 18 miles (29 km) long strip stretching from the Pentagon into Washington D.C. The event was covered in the film The Ribbon Starts Here by Nigel Noble (1988). Individual sections of the Ribbon are exhibited internationally. In 1991, The Ribbon International became a United Nations Non Governmental Organization. Ribbon events can be held for special designated days such as the International Day of Peace (September 21), Earth Day (April 21), special prayer days or other events. Panels from the Ribbon were displayed at the United Nations Decade for Women international conference in Nairobi in 1985, and others were used by members of Women for a Meaningful Summit at their demonstration at the Geneva Summit (1985). Ribbons were used at peace demonstrations at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, and the Horse Creek Missile Silo near Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament in 1986.

William Flynn Martin

William Flynn Martin (born October 4, 1950) is an American energy economist, educator and international diplomat. Martin served as Special Assistant to President Reagan for National Security Affairs, Executive Secretary of the National Security Council in the West Wing of the White House and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy during the Ronald Reagan administration. He was President of the Council of the University for Peace, appointed to the Council by Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. In 1992, he was Executive Director of the Republican Platform committee under George H.W. Bush.

William Martin received seven personal letters of merit from Ronald Reagan. He was also honored by former Czech President Vaclav Havel for creating the highest ranking security scholars program in the Czech Republic which has led to over 400 Czech graduates since its inception in 2000. On May 8, 2018 he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star by Emperor Akihito of Japan in a ceremony in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo for his work in strengthening US-Japan cooperation in nuclear energy. Martin has been honored by the US Department of Energy, receiving the highest award of the Department for leading US energy policy, chairing the Department’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee, initiating the ITER fusion project in l985 and being a father of the Human Genome Program (1986). Please reference this with PDF Salute to Bill Martin.

Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He achieved his Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 and his Master of Science from MIT in 1974. His master's thesis was the basis of an article he co-authored with George Cabot Lodge in the March, 1975 Harvard Business Review entitled Our Society in 1985: Business May Not Like It.William F. Martin’s official White House government National Security Council files are available in the Ronald Reagan Library archive.

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